I've recently seen an uptick in answers to questions that will likely be closed due to simple mistake/easily found in documentation, even when a comment answer has already been given and the question flagged. These answers seem to be made to get some cheap reputation points.

In one instance I gave a brief comment-answer on a question, the OP said he'd accept the answer if I gave it formally, and then I explained the question would likely be closed soon (it was). Despite this, an hour or so later someone else essentially copied my comment-answer to a formal answer.

Honestly I'm temped to down-vote such answers as spam, what is the proper approach here?

  • 4
    I don't really see a problem with it. I used to be much less selective about what questions I'd answer, getting more experience answering. Now I sometimes want to help the OP, but am too lazy to type out a long answer so I answer in comments (like I'm doing right now :-P ). But if the answer is accepted, then the question won't pop up anymore and will basically go away. OP got an answer, newbie got an "Accepted answer", everybody's happy
    – Jason B.
    Sep 19, 2016 at 17:50
  • 5
    @JasonB - Oohh, I am so tempted to copy your comment into an answer here...
    – ciao
    Sep 20, 2016 at 4:01
  • Related: Posting answers in comments
    – Karsten7
    Sep 20, 2016 at 12:35
  • Feyre, I believe this question is a duplicate of (1101). If you agree let me know and I will close this. If not please edit your question to acknowledge the old one and clarify the differences, or how the situation may have changed since 2013.
    – Mr.Wizard
    Sep 25, 2016 at 11:54
  • @Mr.Wizard I believe so, yes.
    – Feyre
    Sep 26, 2016 at 20:14

2 Answers 2


I think a formal answer is always better than an answer made in a comment. I believe this is true even when both the question and answer are simple. Here is why.

  1. Formal answers are much easier to read and therefore more likely to be read than comments.
  2. The content of a formal answer is looked at by our search engine; the content of comments are not.

For the above reasons, I am frequently guilty of the practice Feyre complains about. I usually make any such answer a Community Wiki answer because I am not doing this to grab reputation. Up to now, I have made 98 such answers. Sometimes, I don't make an answer derived from comments a Community Wiki answer because I believe I have contributed significant additional value when I wrote the answer or, I am sorry to say, I forgot to check the Community Wiki box. For the latter, I apologize, but not the former.

  • I'm not complaining, I genuinely came here to ask for the opinion of the community. But I think a community answer is a good solution.
    – Feyre
    Sep 20, 2016 at 17:03

I'll just add a few points in addition to what m_goldberg wrote:

  • Answers posted as comment have been seen as a problem, and it's been encouraged to convert comments to answers so that we don't have a heap of answered unanswered questions in the archive. We had a community effort one Christmas, where we went back and looked specifically for this type of questions and tried to answer them.
  • It's fair to wait for someone who provided a complete answer in the comments to also post it, however you explicitly said in the comments that you were not going to answer the question. In this case I think it's fair game for anyone to post that as an answer. You should have at least said "if it doesn't get closed then I promise to post it in five hours" or something to this effect.
  • As a new user you need reputation to be able to get certain basic privileges and may not be able to tackle the less trivial questions yet. New users also don't have an intuition for which questions are going to get closed and which are not, perhaps not even more so than the person who asked the question. They also can't see how many votes have been cast. I prefer to think that this is not a "reputation grab" but that they are trying to help.
  • In any case I think talking about a "reputation grab" is a "blowing out his candle doesn't make your candle shine stronger" situation. If you wrote something highly untrivial in the comments (which is not the kind of comment you are talking about here) then it makes sense to credit you. If others can reasonably arrive at the same thing independently then I don't think the comment deserves credit. A comment shouldn't and can't be used to claim dibs on a question and decide for everybody else whether the question should or should not be answered properly.

As an aside, I hate when I am working on an answer and then somebody posts the idea of the answer in a comment. Should I credit him? I usually refer to the comment somehow, even though I came up with the idea first.

Since the relationship between comments and answers is unclear I think we should approach these issues with a lot of understanding, especially for new users who are not yet familiar with customs that have formed here over time.

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